The inside of the knee is also known as the medial compartment and it can be a very common source of pain. This is the part of the knee that is closest to the opposite knee and is subjected to a large amount of stress. This is especially true of people with certain gaits that cause the foot to roll inward excessively.
Inside knee pain has a wide range of causes, but the sharp pain and other specific symptoms can have a devastating impact on quality of life no matter what the cause is. To help you better understand the causes, symptoms and treatment options for inside knee pain, we’ve created the following helpful guide.
The caring team at Outpatient Joint Replacement Center of America (OJRCA) is here to help and we’re happy to answer any questions you have. Please feel free to reach out at any time.
Potential Causes of Inside Knee Pain Include Arthritis and Knee Injury
While the knee is made to be very strong and flexible to enable a wide range of movement, it is also very injury prone. The risk of injury also tends to go up with age due to the effects of aging, particularly breakdown of cartilage and connective tissue combined with weakening muscles. These age-related changes can also lead to degenerative conditions in the knee, particularly osteoarthritis.
Inner knee pain can develop when the anatomy of the inner knee is particularly stressed or develops degeneration. The inner knee contains the medial meniscus, a piece of cartilage that helps cushion the knee, and the medial cruciate ligament (MCL) that helps join the inside of the knee together. These two pieces of anatomy are frequent sources of inside knee pain.
Commonly diagnosed conditions for patients with inside knee pain include:
- Arthritis: Osteoarthritis is the form of arthritis most people develop. This can develop in the knee when protective cartilage begins to wear down and joint fluid dries out. The resulting bone-on-bone friction leads to inflammation and stiffness in the joint, often resulting in inside knee pain. Another form of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that causes the body’s own cells to attack the joints. An indicator of rheumatoid arthritis is inside knee pain and sharp pain in both knees.
- Torn Meniscus: The menisci are two pieces of C-shaped cartilage in each knee. As mentioned above, the medial meniscus is on the inside of the knee and the lateral meniscus is on the inside. A torn or injured meniscus is a knee injury that occurs when excessive twisting or other overloads this piece of tissue, tearing or damaging it. Patients commonly experience a sharp pain when this occurs.
- Torn or Injured MCL: This knee injury can develop when a sudden movement or traumatic collision causes this ligament that connects the upper and lower knee on the inside to become sprained or torn. Signs of an MCL tear include sharp pain, locking, an inability to bear weight and popping.
- Bursitis: The bursae are small fluid-filled sacs that help reduce friction between joints such as the knee. In the inner knee, they are located between the MCL and tendons.
If the bursae becomes irritated due to overuse, it can cause swelling and inside knee pain
How Doctors Diagnose and Treat Inside Knee Pain
When seeing a doctor to diagnose the source of inside knee pain, patients will typically first undergo a health history review. This should also include questions about previous knee injuries, history of knee pain in the family and a discussion of specific symptoms and activity levels. A physical examination and diagnostic imagery can help doctors identify the exact cause so an appropriate course of treatment can be created.
While they can sometimes heal on their own, knee injuries such as a torn meniscus or torn MCL often require immediate surgery. This is especially true if the patient is younger and athletic and wants to continue playing a sport or activity at a high level. In less severe cases, conservative treatment such as rest, ice, compression, elevation and over-the-counter medication can help while the progress of the injury is monitored.
If arthritis is the underlying cause of knee pain, conservative treatment is typically the first course of action. In addition to basic therapies, patients may also attempt physical therapy, as well as injections, including pain-relieving steroid injections or amniotic injections which can help promote the body’s healing process.
Surgery may become an option for patients with joint damage due to arthritis or other causes if a full course of conservative treatment does not offer relief.
OJRCA Treatment Options Include Total and Partial Knee Replacement Surgery
In some cases, especially in patients where there is knee joint damage or advanced arthritis in addition to a torn meniscus or MCL, a partial or total joint replacement surgery may offer the best chance of long-term relief and improved function. The goal of any knee joint replacement is to remove all or part of the damaged surface of a joint and replace it with an artificial implant.
In a total joint replacement, the entire surface is replaced, while only one part or compartment is replaced in a partial knee replacement. For example, a partial knee replacement for inner knee pain may involve the medial compartment.
During a knee replacement procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision to access the affected area of the knee joint. Soft tissue and supporting structures are carefully moved aside, allowing for access to the affected area to remove and resurface damaged joint material.
You may be a good potential candidate for a knee replacement if you have knee pain that persists after fully exhausting nonsurgical therapies. A partial knee replacement can be suitable for patients with a stable anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), who have sufficient range of motion, and have experienced damage to one section of the knee. More extensive or severe knee joint damage may require total knee replacement.
At OJRCA, a major part of our mission is providing patients with the ability to get back to daily activities as quickly as possible. This is why we’re dedicated to the benefits of outpatient surgical treatment whenever possible. Thanks to advances in surgical technology, techniques and anesthesia protocols, knee replacement can be performed as an outpatient procedure in very many cases.
Board-certified orthopedic surgeon Dr. Phillip Clifford and the entire OJRCA team are passionate about treating their patients like family. If you’d like to learn more about the full range of meniscal tear treatment options, contact us today. We’ll tell you how to find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our outpatient knee replacement procedures.